Business Growth Can Be A Blessing And A Curse
With so many companies experiencing growth opportunities, one of the biggest challenges facing our service industry is finding people to work. The demand for quality work has not and will never decrease. Quality is important and always will be. Some businesses have dealt with the labor shortage by decreasing the number of customers they will service or purging out their low margin – high upkeep customers. Others are ramping up employee pay and seeking new employees.
The new season of growth opportunity is here. Will you thrive or just survive? Organizations that take on too much work may create unhappy customers by not meeting the demand and can find growth to be a curse. Others who build their processes and people will find the blessings.
Recently, I was speaking to a large landscape contractor in the Mid-west who is experiencing tremendous growth. One of their biggest hurdles is getting new team members up to speed on the way they like to do their work. He wants consistency in the quality. His company is expecting an additional 25% growth in new properties over the next two years, and he wants to get his employee training ready. To his credit he recognizes the value of having a good training system that will get his leaders and front-line teams up to speed quickly. Before he met me, he had started putting together some training classes and was trying to get his leaders to use it. He found it challenging to get his staff to “buy-in” to training and development. He said, “They just never seem to have time to train. It is like they avoid it. How can I get our team to want to train?”
Most of us don’t want to go to classes on things we are already doing each day. We find it boring sitting through training classes. Participates can feel it is a waste of time or even become resentful that someone in the office is telling them in the field how to do their job. Resistance to training done the old way is real.
I see apathy toward training often when working with organizations. I believe one of the keys is to know what you want from your training. Do you simply want to check the box that everyone is trained and now we work like a well-oiled machine? One of the benefits to training is higher production, but that can be short lived doing it the old way.
Have you ever considered using training as an extension of your vision? The companies that tie training into their vision, the bigger picture, get a higher level of buy-in and have teams that want to train.
A very simple, but not-so-easy way to get buy-in is to change your training framework. Usually one person is lecturing or everyone watches a video and people fall asleep. Reframe the training. Make training about development and creating favorable experiences that help foster positive beliefs about the company, the work they do and themselves while reminding them of why the work and the training are important.
Everyone wants to feel important, so try this. Seek input. Ask for insights. Get their knowledge. At times in the training, ask the participants what does a new team member need to know about this patricidal area? The person who feels needed consistently performs better. President Woodrow Wilson said, “We should not only use all the brains we have, but all that we can borrow.” Asking for front-line employees for input, insight and help is a great path to develop “buy-in.”
When seeking input from your staff on ways you do the process, be sure to write their answers down, show them you value what they are sharing and figure out how to add it into the training class the next time around.
Think about it. Do you want to be the expert where everyone has to ask you for all the answers? That’s egotism not leadership. You want to create people as smart, if not smarter than you, so in the training build their confidence in becoming an expert. You want them to carry the high standards into their work, not just talk about it in the classroom. You want them to walk away wanting to do another class or better yet, be a mentor to others in the workplace. Yes, show the video, teach your content, but pause the video, pause the teaching and ask for input so the employees know you value them, not just lecturing to them.
Everyone likes to be an expert even if it is for a short time. It gives them a great sense of pride, mastery and confidence. Paint a vision for your team so that they know that you see them teaching their craft to new employees and maybe even to the community. Make growth a blessing by allowing input and growing together.